Toyota’s last-lap failure at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours was one of the most heartbreaking moments in the race’s long history. The #5 TS050 ran brilliantly for most of the race, only to lose power in the last five minutes of the race, effectively ceding victory to the #2 Porsche 919 that was previously thought to finish in 2nd. Gutted as he may be, Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda vowed to return to Le Mans next year to earn the victory that was snatched away from it.
Toyoda’s statement was published in a Toyota press release following the completion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Sunday.
“From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank everyone who lent us their incredible support during this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Toyoda said. “We of Toyota GAZOO Racing put tremendous pressure on ourselves to break our losing streak at Le Mans and fought so hard to make up for the unfortunate results of the past…Just as our dreams began to come true, we all made to burn that moment into our minds even as unbelievable heartbreak unfolded before our very eyes.”
“When I think of what everyone in the team must be feeling…not to mention everyone who supported us…I honestly do not know what to say. I cannot find the words,” Toyoda continued. “We at Toyota GAZOO Racing are ‘sore losers.’ We do not compete without knowing the feeling of loss. Having tasted the true bitterness of losing, we will return to the World Endurance Championship arena next year, and we will return to compete in the battle that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Toyoda, who’s a racer himself, comes across as amazingly genuine in this statement, and even though he’s upset, he’s gracious in defeat.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all of the cars and drivers who fought alongside us on the track at Le Mans; particularly Porsche and Audi,” Toyoda said. “We will be back next year, reborn, and ready to take you on with all of our might. Look out for the ‘sore losers,’ Toyota, on the track next year. The fight is not over!“
Porsche and its winning driver Neel Jani also offered gracious words to Toyota after the race.
Toyota’s performance, and Toyoda’s statement should be celebrated. We can’t wait to see what the team has up their sleeve for next year.